I have to disagree with that notion that if you can ride on the east coast you can ride anywhere. I started out in VT and learned here for my first year. My skills weren't really progressing until I took a trip out to Tahoe and got a taste of that powder. I did a few days there and my skills drastically went up more in a week there than months on the east coast.
For me it was the confidence you get when falling in soft snow over falling on hard, packed east coast ice. After falling on that east coast ice so much I focused my attention on riding cautiously and avoiding falls. I'm in my mid 30's and I'm pretty big. When I fall it effen hurts. But once you hit the West coast powder and falling doesn't hurt as much, you take a lot more risks and push yourself.
I remember when I got back from my Tahoe trip I had so much confidence that I took a trip to Hunter with my buddies to show off my skills. I was doing great up until I took a nasty fall when I caught an edge and I quickly realized I wasn't in the West coast anymore.