Tapio Nurmela was on the Finnish national team from 1994-99. During his career he won three team medals at major international tournaments. At the 1997 World Championships he won a team silver and repeated that feat at the 1998 Winter Olympics, and then won gold in the team event at the 1999 World Championships. Besides those tournaments, Nurmela also competed at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics and 1995 World Championships and his best individual result at a major international tournament was 12th in sprint at the 1999 World Championships. Domestically Nurmela never won an individual Finnish title, winning silver in 1995 and bronzes in 1994, 1996 and 1999, but won two team titles in 1994 and 1997. After finishing his sporting career, Nurmela worked as a Nordic combined commentator on Finnish national television.