After you've pummeled your final bump run, but before you take off for sunny beaches, remember to spend a few moments to properly stow your skis, boots, poles and other gear so they're ready for next season.

After the resorts close, stop by your local ski shop and have them professionally tune your skis. Be sure they grind the bases flat, repair all the dings, sharpen the edges, remove any burrs, and wax your skis. If you ask them to apply an appropriate wax for early season conditions, your skis will not only protected for corrosion during storage, but they'll be ready for the first time you take them out next season.

If you choose to wait until next season to have your skis tuned, care for your edges by running the side of a candle over them. Buy a couple of inexpensive Velcro ski fasteners to fasten your skis together and slip a piece of wax paper between the skis where the bases contact each other.

The best place to store ski equipment is in a clean, dry environment that is safe from falling objects. The last place you'll want to store your expensive gear is in the corner of the garage where temperatures vary and they risk getting "tapped" by the front of your SUV. Instead, find a closet inside your home and stand your skis in the corner. Even better, buy an inexpensive ski rack and stand your skis up straight. There are a variety of models that sit on the floor or mount to the wall to keep them safe. Visit Cozy Winters for a complete selection of quality racks. Consider protecting your skis with a quality ski bag and hang your ski poles by their straps on a hook.

Next, pick up an inexpensive boot bag at a ski shop sale. Boot bags not only protect your boots from dirt, dust, and other damaging elements, they're a great place to stow your Cat Tracks, ski lock, and other small items that tend to wander away during the summer. If you can't afford a boot bag, cover your boots with plastic bags - the type you bring home from the supermarket.

Secure the bottoms with duct tape to make sure they're sealed tightly and insure that bugs, mice, or other furry animals don't take up residence in the toes of your boots. Remove your damp socks and any other items you've shoved down into the toes of your boot. Very important: be sure to close all of the boot buckles. Leaving the buckles open will cause your ski boots to "remember" an open position and makes your boots difficult to fasten next winter.

Gather all of your ski pants, parkas, long underwear, turtlenecks, and socks and wash them before you put them away for the summer. Worn ski apparel can harbor nasty germs and mold while sitting in warm, dark places. If your parka and pants are getting on in years, consider spraying them with aerosol water proofing before they go into the closet. You can keep all of your ski clothes in great shape by storing them in large, plastic containers available at Walmart or other stores that sell storage containers.

If you haven't already made it a habit during the ski season, put all of your miscellaneous gear in one quality duffel bag, zip it closed, and store it with your other ski gear. Be sure to include your season pass (which often can be quickly renewed if you have the old one) and anything else you might need to get started next winter. In the garage, be sure to properly stow your snow chains, chain tighteners, snow scrapers, and other gear that you use with your car or truck.

When you stop to consider all of the things you depend on for your skiing, it represents a lot of money. Protect your investment over the summer by keeping it clean and ready to go for next winter.