Don't forget, that racers often find themselves doing a bit of freeskiing too. Of course, nobody calls them failed bumpers, frustrated big mountain competitors, or washed out park rats. Yeah, racing is great for your skiing, but it is not the be all end all of our sport. I think that people like Andrew McLean and Louis Dawson do a much purer form of skiing. They also have mountaineering skills that put them in a whole different world than most people in terms of what, and where they can ski. Racing, park, bumps, AK whatever, it is all pushing the limits of the sport in it's own realm. It is all skiing, and it is all good.
When I started at the Mammoth Ski School, my training group was mostly local girls that had grown up racing. The rest of us were good recreational skiers. The racer chicks ripped the groomed, but were not nearly as comfortable off piste. Once we got off the groomed, and into real snow, us ex-weekend warriors took the lead. Our group included the current CA high school SL champ. She could arc it all over firm groomers, but put her in a chute with 6" of junk over old bumps, and she was way out of her element. Of course, there are plenty of racers that rip everywhere. Or are they just good skiers who do a little racing? A real expert should be comfortable on an icy GS course, a bump course with kickers, do every trick in the book off the biggest hits in the park, straightline big AK peaks, tour across big glacieated mountains, have a good wedge demo, spin a tips to tails... Sound like anvbody you know? McConkey? Anybody? There is so much to skiing, very few master it all. That is why there are so many ways to compete, or not compete. People pick different disciplines for whatever reasons they have, most likely they choose what they enjoy the most. The rest of us just try to have fun, and be the most well rounded skier possible.
Oh yea, didn't Daron Rahlves have his big break through after chasing McConkey, the failed racer/bumper, around Squaw?
Powder had a great article a few years back. They took Diane Roffe Steinrotter, Nelson Charmicheal, Rob Boyd, some PSIA demo dude, a movie skier, and an Egan out freesking at Whistler for a week. It was an interesting read.