Great post as always Gkelly. The only thing I'd add is 'depth of improvements'. Not everyone are given equal quality of training facilities, equipment, advice, technical coaching at the beginning, but the best ones are usually the ones who can overcome these deficiencies to eventually even teach themselves, surpass their coaches, then surpass themselves.
I seem to recall an old Chinese proverb along the lines of:
"The practiced can be beaten by gifted. The gifted can be beaten by geniuses. Geniuses can be beaten by the headstrong. The headstrong can lose to those with humility and bravery."
Which summarizes my point that probably strays off the thread a bit. To have great skating talent alone is not enough to conquer this nerve wrecking sport . To become very self aware and maybe even a bit philosophical at times can do wonders to extend any skating talent alone.