It was mentioned that the skills racers have are only relevant to ice. I would like to disagree. The following skills translate directly to big mountain skiing:
1) the ability to ski precisely the spot you have picked, to the couple of inches. think of how often that is critical skiing a tight steep chute.
2) the ability to absorb bumps, ruts, all nasty terrain with the legs, any size, any speed. (within reason)
3) the ability to look ahead and plan your line and turns. skiing vision.
4) impeccable stance
5) tremendous strength and balance naturally, then enhanced with sophisticated training. I hate to say this, but skiers of some of the disciplines barely cross train or weight train.
6) controlling carve, stivot, slide with supreme edge control. Being generally technically oriented, such that learning a new skill falls into a familiar pattern they deal with their whole career.
7) comfort with and control of high speeds. duh.
And also, when these guys were small kids, they were the alpha's of their piers, the hottest kid on skis, and generally could do everything. Every racer starts skiing at a young age and that is also not the case in all disciplines. But, like I said above somewhere, there is no greatest skier, and even that that's not an important idea. And the top skiers respect the entire fraternity, which is what makes it happen. All good.
One more question for SH: have you, personally, ever executed a perfect 45mph hockey stop.....on thoroughbred racing skis no less? You have to do what you have to do to scrub all that speed.