Just to chime in and offer my 2 cents... Growing up in a racing program generally creates the foundation for a great free skier. Free skiing - the act of freely skiing anywhere and stomping it - basically requires that you're able to deal with the large variety of terrain and conditions presented to you on any given day. I spend a lot of my winters at Jay Peak these days and we basically see it all up there and I'd say the ammunition for a successful day consists of, impeccable balance, strength, split second decision making and reaction skills, a strong determination of will, and the right equipment kept in great condition, oh and BALLS.
1. Balance.... It seems very obvious but the ability to maintain one's balance at 40 mph in variable conditions going from boiler ice to sluff powder takes years to build and only really comes from pushing your limits in conditions you would usually hesitate in. Further from that... say you are ripping through a tight glade in your woods in knee deep powder and suddenly your line closes out, you throw your boards sideways to attempt to stop, your downhill ski hits something under the snow... do you biff into a tree or are you able to compensate with balance and strength and maintain control and stop safely.
2. Strength... Being able to manage variable terrain both on trail and in the woods and recover when things things don't go your way is HUGE. Knowing when to be on your tips and when to be on your tails is tough but without the strength factor you're as good as done when you hit the back seat in most off-piste conditions. When your legs stay fresh the whole way down your run you can make those great turns that would cause others to bail and take a break... leaving you flying high and rippin rails.
3. Decision Making Skills... are huge part of the freeskiing equation. In racing the decisions are pretty much made for your right from the start gate. In freeskiing you are constantly evaluating your line, the terrain, the conditions, the possible bailing spots, etc. If it takes you a while to figure out your line down a mogul field your freeskiing likely won't be all that impressive. If you blast out of your favorite woods line, and hit the moguls without stopping or slowing down to think, you might just turn some heads. Do that and throw in a nicely timed jump down the mogul field doing GS turns and you'll look like a pro too concerned with the moguls to turn around them u just launch them and smoothly reconnect on the backside a few moguls down... There are so so so so sooooooooo many times I've found my self straightlining or mach'in GS turns in the woods lined up dead on with a tree looking to send me to the hospital. It's only with split second decision making, big stregth, and great balance that I've been able to divert course and narrowly escape ambulance rides. Learning when to stop and when to push on and being able to make that decision in an instant is also a critical skill...
4. Strong determination of Will.. basically you need to be determined at what your doing (but not to the point of stupidity). When others back off you need to be able to step up believe in your skills and push forward. When others stop before the huge ice patch you straight line 'em and figure you'll turn after the ice. When others look at the jump and question it you scope it out, check the landing and fuckin' huck'em. If you are determined to do better you will... just keep trying and be reasonable. Remember when to give up... don't fight the fall (tense up) or you could get hurt, that is unless your staring down a tree in your path!
5. The right equipment.,.. well ya.. you can't float big pow on tiny sticks... and if you got the wrong equipment for that day you will be fighting your equipment rather then yourself to improve. Find a ski that's fun and one that can push you to turn better and be super comfortable so you can push yourself. My atomics are, to me, the great ski... I feel completely comfortable in every condition so when something hairy comes up I know my equipment and how it will react (mostly).
Lastly, things that could really help - early season I ski with my boots latched but the buckles not clamped down so my boots are loose and my feet wiggle around on trail and the boot is super soft.. this forces me to have excellent balance early on and not rely on driving my boot forward to turn but more balancing the ski and turning with my weight. Second thing I do is ski on one ski down the mountain... yup... I'm that guy... but seriously pick hard diamond or blue square and try to actually ski the whole hill on one ski turning both directions. This will take balance and great strength but having this skill has saved my ass a lot...Javelin turns are also really good excercise to get your turn initiations down and get you forward. I used to huck really big air back in college and I always found that aspect really fun - my best advice for that is practice.. it really all comes down to your takeoff... if you have a good pop and take off technique you can always apply that to your off piste skiing for some serious spice...As for 360's or 720's or straight air... that's not me... I go huge and hold it, old skool style...
Another poster mentioned a Coach... I fully agree with this developing rock solid turning techniques is ESSENTIAL to appling the above aspects of your body. I wouldn't be half the free skiier I am today if it wasn't for YEARS of coaching on my Tri State Racing team, both physical and mental coaching. When I'm in the woods I treat trees like bamboo gates... and I learned to ski on the edge of control and out of control through my race program and it took many winters for me. First things first is defenitily spend some time with a coach from a ski team if you can or a very aggressive instructor if you didn't grow up in a race or mnt program.
Remember hucking is easy turning and landing are tough...
Hope this helps... Peace